Tenchi Muyo! : Magical Project S: Volume 1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, May 10, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, November 19, 2002
More fun with Sasami from Tenchi Muyo fame.
When watching the show, I listened to the original Japanese seiyuu (voice actors). There was no English dubbed option. The talking, ambient sounds, and background music made good use of the two, built-in, TV speakers. Nothing really special here.
Overall, the video is pretty good. Solid colors, good animation, and good overall detail. However, there are noticeable problems with aliasing, and artificing. This occurs mostly during the opening credits, and during the magical transformation sequence. I did find this to be distracting, especially since the rest of the show is solidly done.
There is plenty to talk about here. First, there is a double-sided, shiny cover, full of art from the show. On the back of the cover is the list of episodes, a good introduction to the show, and the usual DVD stuff (copyrights, extras, and whatnot). The clear dual-DVD keep case also works well with this cover. Both DVDs have silk-screens of Sasami or Misao. There is both a pencil board, and an insert.
Menu's load quickly, and easily; and are played over a static image that has a bit of animation to it (like the gems will glitter in sequence.)
Though there are no extras on the first disk, the 2nd disk contains a number of extras. They have textless opening and ending sequences, as well as an art gallery. In addition to this are three shorts semi dealing with the show.
::Content:: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For those of you who like Sasami from Tenchi Muyo, this is a series you'll enjoy.
Instead of the normal cast in another retelling of Tenchi Muyo (how many times can you re-tell the same story?), Magical Project S focuses on Sasami. In short, Magical Project S is a parody of the mahou shoujo (magical girl) stories. You can see references to Sailor Moon, Wedding Peach, Pelsia, Akko-chan, and others, if you look for them. But, for the most part, it's just a self-contained parody.
The story is fairly simple; Tsunami is in the running to be queen of Juriheim. But, in order to fully win, she has to reset the balance of good and bad on Earth. So, bubbly Tsunami sets out to earth, to meet with her avatar, Sasami... and wacky antics ensure. Because, of course, Rumia, one of the other contestants to be queen, wants to see Tsunami fail, and her to be nominated. So, Rumia picks her own avatar on earth to sow chaos, destruction, and generally be a pain-in-the-side of Pretty Sammy.
Most of the episodes are "monster of the week", but there is a lot given to the friendship of Sasami and Misao as well. Not to mention an entire episode where Sasami's seiyuu (Yokoyama Chisa) gets to sing a pretty entertaining song. The story flows well, and the comedy carries it along during those parts of the show which are a bit slower.
Now, one thing that I thought could have been done better is Misao often just gets better scripting in these episodes. What I mean is, while Sasami is your standard 4th grader (friendly, cheerful, full of energy) they don't really go into her character much. In contrast, Misao is more fully developed. You see why she is the way she is, and she just is better fleshed out then Sasami. (Luckily, Sasami is given a much better script for the next 13 episodes.)
Another problem is the "deus ex machina" that starts to occur as well. Instead of having Sasami actually fix the problem, someone else comes in and does it for her... or gives her a big hint on how to solve it. It's not bad, just a bit unnecessary. If they would have let Sasami/Pretty Sammy solve the problems on her own, it would have helped to flesh out her charcter.
I must say, I was very impressed with how Yokoyama Chisa (Sasami/Tsunami) and Kasahara Rumi (Misao/Misa) made their voices so different between the characters. If you listen very, very closely you can hear that the same actress does them, but they are so talented that if you're not listening, you'll think they hired four different actresses. Kudos to Chisa and Rumi.
Overall I would say volume 1 is a good way to introduce the series (what with having 13 of the 26 episodes on it). There are a number of single-shot stories, but enough to tie them all together to make a longer running story as well. They still use a lot of the "Tenchi Muyo norm" (that is regular goofiness and slap-stick humor) when telling the show, which might be good or bad depending. Anyway, a good, light, mahou shoujo comedy.
Panasonic CT-27D11E 27" TV; Sony Play Station 2 DVD Player; Gold-Plated Monster component cable
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tenchi Muyo